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Religious Noncoms To Government: We Want Help, Not Handout

With the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
concerned about threats to its future and its funding of PBS and NPR,
noncommercial religious broadcasters say they are being left out of the
discussion about the value of nonprofit broadcasting.

In a statement released Tuesday, the National
Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright said that those government-funded
broadcasters have become the poster-children for "government directed
charity," while religious nonprofits have not taken "a dime of tax
money" and served the spiritual needs of millions of the public through
shelters, soup kitchens, rescue missions, military support groups, pregnancy
centers, reading programs and anti-crime efforts.

"While some are saying that public broadcasters
like NPR and PBS are the only trusted media outlets,"
said NRB SVP and General Counsel Craig Parshall in
a statement, "they are forgetting one crucial component of the
non-profit media world: non-commercial religious broadcasters, and in
particular, Christian radio and television."

Parshall says that, unlike NPR and PBS,
religious broadcasters are not asking for a bailout. And while there has been
talk recently about phasing out federal noncom funding, he points out that
there has also been talk about "super-funding" noncommercial media as
a way to respond to the sea change in the commercial news model brought about
by the Internet and a tanked economy.

Rather than creating a giant government-run media
elite, NRB says, it should be helping religious broadcasters, which he
calls an underappreciated resource.

That help, says NRB, could come in the form of allowing
them more latitude in on-air fund-raising for other nonprofits, and more
latitude in program sponsorships from corporate underwriters. NRB says current
FCC regs now make it tough. "We are not asking for financial
bailouts, we are simply asking to be bailed out of the ‘lock up' of federal
rules that keep us from competing with the likes of NPR and PBS," says

Parshall made a similar pitch at a future of media panel session
in Washington last spring.